You definitely don’t associate Palermo with cold, ice and snow, but the medieval history of Sicily is as stormy as a Game of Thrones series book!
Sicily has always been, due to its geographical position, the Mediterranean Sea crossroads.
Its strategic importance is the reason of almost three thousand years of history with fights and clashes.
In the Middle Ages years and years of war brought betrayal, death and destruction, but also the seeds of a cultural melting pot which is one of the most fascinating aspects of the cultural heritage of Sicily: you can’t find somewhere else in the world a place in which you can just walk between a “viking” palace and an Arabian nights – style one!
In 831 AD Palermo became the capital of the Emirate of Sicily. It’s only in 1061 that the Normans starts their “invasion” of Sicily.
Normans means “men of the north” and, yes: it’s Vikings! And if the Viking you are thinking about is the blood – thirsty, pagan Ragnar Lothbrok, think again: we are now something like two hundred years later, the Normans are definitely more “civilized” and Christians. The conquest of Palermo in 1072 means the end of the Emirate of Sicily.
Again in perfect Game of Thrones – mood, the thirst for power never ends and Sicily becomes part of the mix of political intrigues and fights after which Sicily becomes part of the Holy Roman Empire: under Frederick II, Emperor and King of Sicily between 1198 and 1250, Palermo is basically the capital of Europe, a hub for artists and writers.
The sarcophagus of Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen is still one of the many jewels of the Cathedral of Palermo, the Cattedrale of Santa Vergine Maria Assunta, while the Royal Palace, Palace of the Normans, the seat of the Kingdom of Sicily and of the Empire, is a must see.